It's hard to believe Alessandro Michele's first womenswear designs for Gucci only hit stores last fall, as the brand has already become so closely associated with Michele's quirky, romantic, vintage-inspired vision — a vision that has obviously brought a lot of excitement (and press) to the brand, and more importantly, a lift in sales. However, that lift hasn't been quite as meteoric as the one Saint Laurent experienced after Hedi Slimane took the reins (granted, Saint Laurent was a smaller business to start out with).
Kering's biggest brand brought in €894 million (about $1 billion) in the first quarter of 2016, up 3.1 percent from the same period last year. That's slightly slower growth than the brand experienced in the fourth quarter of 2015 (sales then were up 4.8 percent over the year prior), but that reflected a slowdown of growth for Kering's luxury segment overall. For Gucci, interest from third-party retailers continued to rise; wholesale sales were up 10 percent, while sales in its own stores — many of which were redesigned under Michele's vision in the past few months — rose just 3 percent.
Kering's luxury sales overall, up just 2.6 percent for the quarter, missed analysts' estimates thanks to the strong dollar and tourism slowdown that has been troubling many luxury brands lately. Bottega Veneta was apparently the hardest hit: Sales there dropped 8.3 percent.
Thank goodness for Saint Laurent. Unsurprisingly, Hedi Slimane left the brand in a cozy spot, with revenue up 27 percent to €268 million (about $300 million) thanks to double-digit retail sales growth in all regions, in addition to an 18 percent jump in wholesale sales. His final collection for the house will arrive in stores this fall, which is also when new creative director Anthony Vaccarello will unveil his vision for Saint Laurent for spring 2017. It goes without saying that he has some big shoes to fill.
Also of interest at Kering: Puma saw a lift from the launch of Rihanna's new Fenty trainer in February. We'll know more about that when Puma releases its own earnings report next week.